Judging the twelve tribes of Israel

And Jesus said to them, Truly, I say to you, that you who have followed me in the regeneration when the Son of man sits on the throne of his glory, you also will sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

The assertion here (and in Lk. 22:28-30) that the disciples will sit on thrones with Christ may have a quite specific reference to the eschatological narrative. In the regeneration, which refers not to the final new creation but to God’s people restored following judgment (cf. Is. 65:17; 66:22; and Josephus’ use of the word palingenesia in Ant. 11.2.9 for the ‘rebirth’ of the nation following exile), those who literally and painfully (Luke describes them as ‘those who have stayed with me in my trials’) followed Jesus are assured that when the Son of man sits on the throne of his glory, they will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

The very precise focus on Israel (twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes) suggests that this is to be understood within the narrative of an impending historical judgment on the nation (in other words, the war of AD 66-70), which Jesus interprets in the light of Daniel 7. The disciples will be vindicated with Jesus for choosing the narrow path of suffering that leads to life and will (symbolically?) sit with him in judgment over rebellious Israel when it reaches the end of the broad path leading to destruction.

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